As part of the Homes for Heroes 100 programme we’ll be giving away thousands of copies of a new graphic-style history of a century of Bristol housing written by Eugene Byrne and illustrated by Antony Forbes. As a taste of what is to come, this blog shows how an extract from Eugene’s writing is developed into a comic-strip by Tony.
First, Eugene sends Tony a script, broken down into scenes and individual frames. This extract is from the first story in the book, ‘A Nice Walk Long Walk’. It takes place on 4 June 1919. On that the day visiting dignitaries and city representatives from around the world came to Bristol to look at the council housing that had already been completed in the Demonstration Area of the Hillfields Park estate and to mark the official start of work at Sea Mills.
The characters are Daisy Bell and her husband George. Daisy’s life will be shown from her childhood to old age over the course of the book. She is described as ‘small, thin and wiry… She is self-reliant, sardonic, and, in this story, in the early stages of pregnancy’. George is described as ‘a well-built, good-looking man in his mid/late 20s. There is a slight deformity in his left leg due to a war wound from which he has almost fully recovered… George is naturally jolly and optimistic.’ The text below gives the frame number, description (in square brackets) and dialogue.
6 [This one quite big] LATER …
[They are arm in arm, admiring posh houses in Stoke Bishop. G: has old army pack on his back]
D: Stoke Bishop! How the other half lives!
G: Daisy, you are too good for these mere hovels. You and our baby shall live in a palace!
D: I’ll be glad to have a roof that doesn’t leak.
G: And a fireplace with two comfy chairs …
D: And an inside toilet!
G: Steady on girl! Let’s not get too ambitious!
8 [At high spot overlooking the Avon, eating picnic. They also have a couple of beer bottles, George’s labelled GEORGE’S, Daisy’s labelled MILK STOUT]
G: They’re going to be building a big road down there soon to join up the City Docks with Avonmouth.
D: Good thing, too. Lots of men need the work.
G: We’re lucky I’ve got a decent job.
D: Sometimes I wonder what we fought that blessed war for. All those poor men killed, all those mothers and wives left with no-one.
D: Things have to change for people like us.
As a first stage, Tony sketches the frames, inserting the dialogue.
The artwork is then refined following discussion between Eugene and Tony, and after feedback from colleagues in the project. In this second example the frames have been condensed to two lines. The layer with the dialogue is not included. Neither is the background. The focus is on developing the characters. The yellow tint aids Tony when viewing his drawing on screen and will not be used in the final version.
For the next stage, after further consultation, the dialogue layer is brought back and a background layer is added.
Further revisions are tried before the work is ready to be circulated for proof-reading and then signed off for print. Here is a version using another type of font and with more shading.
We’ll be announcing when and where free copies of the book will be available in a future blog. There will be collection points around the city, including in branches of the Bristol library service.